Thursday, 30 August 2012

Guilt of a Working Mum

I work because...A) I need to... B) I want to make a go of the new business my OH has just started..., and C) the work ethic is passed onto my children.  I must admit, I love it.  I have never felt so content in a job. Don't get me wrong, it's not a high flying career, and the pay, say I won't be buying a second home in the sun just yet is a bit of an understatement.  More like NEVER.  3 years at university to end up in a job I trained to do when I was 16, but then again I've never been driven by money.  I get great satisfaction from only having myself to answer to.  I can walk to work as it's only just over a mile away.  I can take my children to work  (I say children, I mean child, the other 2 are already in employment), and it fits in with school hours.

However, as perfect as it sounds, it is not without it's downfalls.  I have to work 6 days a week and have not really taken time off during the summer holidays which is why  I am getting a bad back trying to lift this burden called guilt.  Guilty at not doing all the other things I see mums and dads doing during the holidays.  We try and compensate by going to our caravan at the weekends which provides quality time with one another but I always feel the time goes by too quickly and Monday comes around and it's either come to the office with me and be bored, or stop with a babysitter and not see your parents all day.  I've always worked but my work never seem to impact so much on family life as this job is doing.  That's why I have decided to teach my youngest to bake.  She's 8 years old and has a very sharp inquisitive mind.  I baked with the elder 2, eldest took to it like a duck to water whilst middle daughter struggles to distinguish flour from icing sugar and a sieve from a spoon, but hey ho, no 3 children are the same.

Child 3, who I shall refer to as Mini A from now on, was most eager to start baking her first batch of fairy cakes.  I have always baked with them... I've let them lick the bowl and stir the mixture until their poor little arms ached, and then swiftly took over again to create the perfect text book fairy cakes.  This time though, as much as it pained me, I took a back seat and let her do everything (apart from getting the icing sugar to the right consistency, she can do that next time).  She loved it.

Mini A wanted to decorate her cakes for family and friends.  I wanted to show her how, but she insisted on doing it herself.  I must say, not bad for a for a first attempt. and on tiptoes too may I add.
All in all a very productive evening, in more ways than one.  Baking provided delicious treats for tomorrow, increased maths and life skills, and most importantly it provided quality time together,
Did I mention my back was starting to ease up a little?...For a short while anyway!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Just want to say thanks

I didn't know what to expect after I pressed the publish button on my first blog just over a week ago.  I didn't expect the positive response and comments I have received and certainly didn't expect a world wide audience.  Thank you to all who have taken the time to read it.  I know I owe that to Sue,  for what she has done to acknowledge my little blog.  I am very grateful.  I often thought I was one of the very few people who is sick of, or who actually notices, how wastful as a society we have become, but Sue has opened up the doors and introduced me to like-minded people from whom I can learn from.

However, starting the blog didn't suddenly spring up overnight.  I have been carefully fermenting my ideas over a period of time but didn't have the nerve to broadcast them to the world. My inspiration came through being a regular reader of  A blog that reflects the lives of Andrew and Carol Oldham, 'but will also bring together those groups and individuals involved in the pursuit of a sustainable lifestyle.' So whether you're a keen gardener, wannabe gardener (like me), interested in good wholesome cooking or anything eco-friendly then go and pay Andrew and Carol a visit.  I can guarantee that there will be something for everybody to enjoy and you'll soon be looking forward to your daily slice of Life on Pig Row as the wide range of topics covered offers sound practical advice that we could all benefit from.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Hard Boiled Fiction

Are we really to believe the latest hype that eating eggs can be as bad as smoking? 

According to a latest piece of research, egg yolks can further promote the clogging of the arteries.  Another nonsense story from the media based on a  piece of research that included a  select group of people.  1231 to be exact -because folks didn't you know that 1231 is a large enough figure to represent the billions of people worldwide???   Also, the average age of people taking part was 62.  Furthermore, factors that were not taken into account was the exercise, or lack of, these people did or did not do. A diet higher in other saturated fats - fry ups are not based on eggs alone, but for some reason this was not considered, and also alcohol consumption, all of which may also contribute towards a build-up of plaque.

Anyway, enough of the science bit - in short, I love eggs and don't like having them bad mouthed! They are cheap (if you know where to look), extremely versatile - where would our country be without the egg and spoon race, not to mention the various uses in homemade beauty products.  They are a good source of protein, and think of the limitless functions they provide for every cook/baker.

My youngest is a very faddy eater but eggs in the form of boiled, scrambled and the old family favourite 'chucky egg', she will wolf down.  Here is the recipe of her favourite scrambled egg which is so easy to make that if she was big enough to reach the hob I'd let her do it herself.  Fully supervising of course!

Simple Scramble

  • 1 egg per person
  • 1 tbsp of milk per person
  • Knob of butter
  • Spattering of salt) optional
  • Pinch of pepper  )
  • Heat the butter in the pan (I always use my frying pan).
  • Beat together the eggs and milk and pour into pan.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Stir continuously to prevent it sticking.
  • When it forms a creamy firm(ish) mass they are done.
  • Serve on toast.

Of course, there are variations and everyone will have their own style to how they like their eggs.  This is the recipe I use when cooking for children.  If it is for adults then I will increase the ingredients.  A simple, very quick breakfast /lunchtime meal and a great introductory recipe to get children into the kitchen.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Care in the Community

When asked what period in time would I travel back to, mine would have to be the forties.  I suppose it stems from my nan's time when she was a young woman.  She would often recall tales of times gone by, but by no means with the rose-tinted glasses.  She would tell of the hardships endured during the first half of the decade of war torn Britain and how the phrases 'make do and mend' and 'dig for victory' were instilled into people's way of thinking.  Yet despite such atrocities happening worldwide, one thing she did remember with fondness was the sense of community there was among everyone. 

Now, I don't want to go as far as being called upon should someone die and be expected to lay out the dead (as neighbours often did with her) but the thought of helping one another in difficult times is something I wish was more noticable in our society.  That is why I have made a conscious effort to try and help somebody in my community at least once a week.  I'm not talking about rushing into a burning building to save someone's pet budgerigar (although you never can tell until faced with the situation).  No, I'm talking about the little things, perhaps even the un-noticable.  Recycling.  More to the point, recycling that benefits the community.  Everybody recycles newspapers.  We don't often give it a second thought to put it out on recycling day. It's become a way of life.  But then while out walking the other week I passed my local community centre.  This centre provides excellent facilities and affords opportunities and activities for everyone to participate in, myself included.  I still have a wooden spoon I engraved when I went to the summer playscheme 23 years ago not to mention the countless first aid, language and computer classes I have attended.  I noticed outside a big recycling green paperbank, the ones that are normally seen on supermarket carparks.  The money raised from would go directly to the centre.

So a couple of times of week I take whatever papers, junk mail and pizza delivery leaflets to this paperbank.  It's 2 minutes from where I live, gives me a chance to walk the dog and is a way to say thank you in my own way for the fantastic service the community centre has provided and continues to provide to everyone.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Market Not Supermarket

Until I can morph into Barbara Good (Felicity Kendal from The Good Life, a seventies sitcom for you younger generations) and become completely self sufficient I would shop at our local market everyday, but I can't because it's only on once a week.  I come from an old historic market town whose market days, once upon a time, would bring folk flocking from miles around.  Though, sadly, that was quite a while ago now; the Friday market has declined somewhat over the years.  Why?  In my opinion, one of the factors being is that the supermarkets are squeezing the life out of it.  During a local forum discussion, I suggested a further Monday market should be brought back, if only for the fruit and veg alone. The reply I had was that people no longer have the money to shop a couple of times a week.  I understand we are living in austere times but I beg to differ. 

Here is what I bought from the local market for £1.55.  The supermarket price would have been £3.86 due to having to buy in packages - a saving of £2.31. I have bought exactly the amount I require, therefore there will be no waste.  Not only that, bar the potatoes due to the weight, all came in environmentally friendly, traditional brown paper bags.   None of the excessive plastic packaging.  The taste, compared to supermarket produce, is by far the more superior.  So those people who say they can't afford to buy fresh fruit and veg are obviously not looking far enough (or close enough as the case may be) to see how much they can save. So instead of trying to budget by shopping for supermarket bland names, sorry I mean supermarket brand names, support your local market/greengrocers for those of you who still have them.  To eat well needn't cost the earth in more sense than one.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Jam Jars

As mentioned earlier I love recycling.  My husband, who is a very hands on practical person, suggested buying some electrical garden lights.  My poor little heart nearly stopped in it's tracks.  ELECTRICAL.  Are you serious? We already have two teenage daughters that use enough electricity in a week than a small town in Ireland (and no amount of lecturing is going to make them change their ways-hair needs washing, drying and straightening everyday don't you know). If I had my way we would be all be using wind-up appliances to generatre energy- keep fit not fat!  So I decided to come up with my own creation.  These are only two of the lights I have created tonight.  The other three will follow shortly.  The only thing I have had to buy is the garden wire £1.48.  The rest of  the materials have come from teenage daughter number two nail varnish collection, mother-in-law jam jars, tea-lights -Halloween three years ago, and beads from old bracelets.  My husband smiled (the way he does when not wanting confrontation) and said 'Ooh, aren't you the creative one'.  I don't profess to be creative but when it comes to saving a bit of money and preserving the Earth for that little bit longer, then yes, I will rack my brains for whatever is necessary!

I Blame Enid Blyton

I blame Enid Blyton for creating in my head a Utopian ideal of how life should be lived.  I also believe I am part of a generation of Enid Blyton readers who all share the same ideals.  I have friends on Facebook with whom I have not had contact with for over twenty years and are living their life how Enid would have wanted.  Self sufficient, living in the countryside, drinking lashings of Ginger Beer, helping Father dig up the potatoes before going up the Faraway Tree for an adventure with Moon-Face (and still chuckle at the names Dick and Fanny).  I take great delight in recycling everything possible, scouring car boot sales, blackberrying, and 'proper' home cooking. My elder children consider me slightly barmy and my husband smiles at me (the way one would at a small child) when I show him my latest homemade creation.  Yet, this is me and I want to share it with you -whoever will listen.